Seeing red: live events industries send plea to government

Published: 9 August 2020
Reporter: Sandra Giorgetti

Red Alert
We Make Events

As previously reported, those working behind the scenes in the live performance sector in trades such as audio, lighting, video, transportation and rigging are at high risk of job losses because of the almost total cancellation of live events and festivals over the summer and beyond.

Outdoor events alone have a workforce of some 600,000 and research has shown that 70 per cent of companies will have served redundancy notices by the end of December, because of there being no prospect of events reopening until early 2021.

The knock-on effect on the sector's ability to deliver services going forward, not to mention the impact on its global reputation, of such mass redundancies would be devastating, and has been the focus of its Red Alert campaign.

Teetering on collapse due to the absence of financial support from the government, members of more than 19 trade associations are coming together to light hundreds of venues red on Tuesday evening.

PLASA's Peter Heath said, “the live events industry supply chain, essential to every single event in the UK, is set to completely collapse without financial support from the government, due to social distancing prohibiting mass events. Large-scale events are not expected to reopen until spring 2021 at the earliest, and the reality is that the sector can’t wait that long. We’ve issued a ‘Red Alert’ after using #WeMakeEvents because the sector is on its last legs, and now the whole industry is coming together to ask the government to ‘throw us a line'."

The day of action will see a variety of creative activities taking place in over twenty UK cities including Blackpool, Cardiff, Leeds and Manchester, with a special 'throw us a line' finale at London’s South Bank.

Royal Festival Hall, the National Theatre and the Tate are amongst the buildings to be illuminated red and as a boat carrying press and politicians travels down the Thames volunteers will symbolise the call to government to ‘throw us a line’.

This is a sector-wide tragedy in the making but on a more personal level, approximately 70 per cent of those working in the sector are freelance. The indiscriminate closing down of the self-employed income support scheme by the government puts their livelihoods at ongoing risk for as long as live performance events, festivals, and outdoor performances are unable to reopen.

Amongst the big hitting names supporting the present campaign are platinum-selling artists Peter Gabriel, Imogen Heap and award-winning rock band, The Cure, who said, “the events sector urgently needs government support to survive the COVID-19 crisis. Without major, immediate support from government, the entire live events sector supply chain is at risk of collapse. The aim is to have financial support extended for the people and companies in this sector, until they can return to work."

Those wishing to participate in the London 'throw us a line' event should register in advance. Details of regional events will be posted on the #WeMakeEvents Facebook page with further details of the event on the PLASA web site.